NYC Mayor Signs $5.3 Billion PLA, OC Supervisors Still Clueless

I noticed this story and I couldn’t help wondering what Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg knows about Project Labor Agreements that the members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors don’t?

Mayor Bloomberg Announces PLA with the Building Trades

Mayor Bloomberg Announces PLA with the Building Trades

NOVEMBER 24th —Mayor Mike Bloomberg today announced the signing of long-awaited Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) worth $5.3 Billion in public projects over the next four years. The signing of the PLA’s caps an eight-month negotiation process between the Trades and the City administration. These are the first-ever PLA’s for City agencies. The PLA for the School Construction Authority builds on a previous PLA agreement. The announcement was made at the Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School at Spring and Broome Streets in Soho.

Calling the PLA deals “the economic downturn’s silver lining,” the Mayor said hard economic times have allowed the City to win $300 million in savings from labor unions by exacting concessions in work rules and overtime, including a waiver of Wicks Law provisions. (Hear audio of the Mayor here.) Building and Construction Trades Council President Gary LaBarbera, in response to a question, countered by noting that the PLA’s put savings dollars back into the City’s capital budget, where they will be used to fund an additional 1,800 unionized construction jobs. (Hear audio of Mr. LaBarbera here.)

Building Trades Employers’ Association President Lou Coletti thanked the Mayor for stimulating jobs and said that his contractors would “compete very heavily” for the work, thus insuring greater savings for the City. (Hear audio of Mr. Coletti here.)

Overtime is capped at time-and-a-half for work performed from Monday through Saturday with no restriction on the ability of contractors to schedule overtime to meet deadlines. All trades have agreed to standardization of terms and flexibility of scheduling at job sites, including eight standard holidays, 8-hour day, 40-hour weeks, flexible start times, and coordinated lunch periods. Strikes are prohibited even if broader work stoppages exist outside the work sites.

The Mayor’s office said the PLA’s will fund 32,000 construction jobs over the four year life of the agreements. He was joined by Reverend Jacques A. DeGraff of the Minority Business Leadership Council, who noted that the PLA’s have specific provisions to increase the numbers of minorities and women who can be placed on construction jobs. For contracts and subcontracts of less than $1 million, managed by non-union Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises, the contractor will be allowed to fill as many as half of the first eight jobs on a project with their own workforce. The PLA’s commit unions to the goal of hiring 45% of apprentices from the ranks of minorities, women, returning veterans, and new high school graduates of the City’s public schools.

The Mayor made it clear that other PLA’s are in the works. including one which would cover an additional $509 million of work at wastewater treatment plants, housing properties owned by the City and at other sites.

On October 28th the Orange County Board of Supervisors decided to move forward with an ordinanceprohibiting the County from entering into any Project Labor Agreements in the future. Bloomberg who is personally worth $20 billion,  almost four times as much as the Orange County budget, knows the value of Project Labor Agreements to his city. Unfortunately for the taxpayers of Orange County, our Board of Supervisors members are clueless.

  1 comment for “NYC Mayor Signs $5.3 Billion PLA, OC Supervisors Still Clueless

  1. Mike Tardif
    December 3, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    My letter to the OC Board of Supervisors:

    Re: Project Labor Agreements

    Dear Supervisors,

    I am a resident of Orange County – my family has owned and operated a sheet metal fabricating and contracting business in Santa Ana since 1956.

    Project Labor Agreements (PLA) – are used on both private and public construction. PLAs have a long track record of facilitating construction projects throughout Orange County, the state of California and the nation.

    The benefits of a PLA include:

    * Reinforce state requirements, and the community’s interest, to pay the Prevailing Wage rates for Orange County

    * Cost savings for on-time and quality construction, often at or below budget

    * Uniformly administered safety, health and drug-free programs

    * A highly trained workforce – rigorous apprenticeship programs assure skilled craftpersons

    * Productive labor relations and elimination of all work stoppages for the duration of the project

    I am not going to tell you that a blanket PLA – covering all County financed construction at every project cost level – is the way for the County of Orange to go.

    However, as a business person I believe that it is important for a contracting entity, whether private or public, to have flexibility and options when considering any financial undertaking – especially construction.

    Currently there is no County mandate that any County construction project be completed using a PLA. The County has the flexibility to look at each of its construction projects and determine if it believes that a PLA would be beneficial (or not) to the successful completion of any particular project.

    Currently you are free to judge for yourself the comparative benefits of either going with, or not going with, a Project Stabilization Agreement on any single County financed construction project.

    You are able to consider project specific Project Stabilization Agreements to facilitate important Orange County construction projects.

    As a business person I do not understand why you would constrain and ham-string this Board – or future Boards – from considering if a particular construction project may be of sufficient complexity, size or under time constraints as to make use of a PLA.

    The Board of Supervisors should set a course of action that you believe is in the best interest of the residents and taxpayers of Orange County. I do not believe that a course of action which limits the options and flexibility of Board decisions concerning the availability of construction labor is the proper course.

    Just as a blanket “all inclusive” PLA policy may not be appropriate for Orange County – a blanket “all PLAs excluded” policy is similarly not appropriate.


    Mike Tardif

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